It’s called an own goal. Just when the Opposition wanted all media attention on the Federal government’s political difficulties, Opposition shadow minister Mr. Joe Hockey announced the Coalition – the Coalition! – had begun talks with the republican movement about potential changes to Australia's constitution.
Mr. Hockey is wrong. Whatever talks he is having, the Shadow Treasurer is not speaking on behalf of the Coalition. This is his own frolic. Is Mr. Hockey trying to show there is division on the front bench?
According to Stephanie Peatling in the Sun Herald (“Hockey takes on republic cause” 13/6) Mr. Hockey has “led the negotiations."
What negotiations? Ms. Peatling says he has taken over from Malcolm Turnbull as" the torchbearer for republican sentiment" inside the Liberal Party.”
Mr Hockey says he advocates a ''bottom up'' approach to constitutional change, urging the movement to raise the debate in the community.. ''This needs to be bottom up not top down. It was top down last time and it didn't work. They [the republican movement] need to find a way to make it an issue again.''
If he truly wants a "bottom up" approach why is he making pronouncements about this from the front bench?
…exagerrated republican claims…
The movement chairman Major General Michael Keating said 60 to 80 per cent of people were republicans ''and half of them vote for the Coalition''. This is untrue.
The trend in the polls indicates that support, including weak support, for some sort of undefined politicans’ republic is in the low 40% range, indicating a trouncing in any popular vote. Pointing out that Labor formally supports some sort of republic and former opposition leader Mr Turnbull was also a committed republican.
Ms. Peatling recalls that the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, once headed Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy.The head of the republican movement conceded a politicians’ republic ''.. isn't inevitable. We have to make it happen.''
Ms. Peatling reported that "Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy head David Flint said people should enjoy the Queen's Birthday public holiday….'Australia's dwindling republican movement is whingeing about the Queen's Birthday holiday instead of deigning to tell us how they want to change the constitution and the flag.'''